The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance

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A myth-shattering view of the Islamic world's myriad scientific innovations and the role they played in sparking the European Renaissance.

Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Western science had their roots in the Arab world of the middle ages, a period when much of Western Christendom lay in intellectual darkness. Jim al- Khalili, a leading British-Iraqi physicist, resurrects this lost chapter of history, and given current East-West tensions, his book could not be timelier. With transporting detail, al-Khalili places readers in the hothouses of the Arabic Enlightenment, shows how they led to Europe's cultural awakening, and poses the question: Why did the Islamic world enter its own dark age after such a dazzling flowering?

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About the author

Jim al-Khalili is a leading theoretical nuclear physicist, a trustee of the British Science Association, and a senior advisor to the British Council on science and technology. He has written a number of popular science books, which have been translated into thirteen languages so far.
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Published on
Mar 31, 2011
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History / Middle East / General
History / World
Science / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“A thrilling action ride of a book” (The New York Times Book Review)—from Jerry Bruckheimer in theaters everywhere January 19, 2018—the New York Times bestselling, true-life account of a US Special Forces team deployed to dangerous, war-ridden Afghanistan in the weeks following 9/11.

Previously published as Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as they rode into the city. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn.

During a surrender of six hundred Taliban troops, the Horse Soldiers were ambushed by the would-be POWs. Dangerously overpowered, they fought for their lives in the city’s immense fortress, Qala-i-Janghi, or the House of War. At risk were the military gains of the entire campaign: if the soldiers perished or were captured, the entire effort to outmaneuver the Taliban was likely doomed.

“A riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda” (Tom Brokaw), Doug Stanton’s account touches the mythic. The soldiers on horses combined ancient strategies of cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to perform a seemingly impossible feat. Moreover, their careful effort to win the hearts of local townspeople proved a valuable lesson for America’s ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. With “spellbinding...action packed prose...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier’s secret mission remains the US military’s finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war” (USA TODAY).
While neutron halos were discovered 30 years ago, this is the first book written on the subject of this exotic form of nuclei that typically contain many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. It provides an introductory description of the halo and outlines the discovery and evidence for its existence. It also discusses different theoretical models of the halo's structure as well as models and techniques in reaction theory that have allowed us to study the halo. This is written at a level accessible to graduate students starting a PhD in nuclear physics.

Halo nuclei are an exotic form of atomic nuclei that contain typically many more neutrons than stable isotopes of those elements. To give you a famous example, an atom of the element lithium has three electrons orbiting a nucleus with three protons and, usually, either 3 or 4 neutrons. The difference in the number of neutrons gives us two different isotopes of lithium, Li6 and Li7. But if you keep adding neutrons to the nucleus you will eventually reach Li11, with still 3 protons (that means it's lithium) but with 8 neutrons. This nucleus is so neutron-rich that the last two are very weakly bound to the rest of the nucleus (a Li9 core). What happens is a quantum mechanical effect: the two outer neutrons float around beyond the rest of the nuclear core at a distance that is beyond the range of the force that is holding them to the core. This is utterly counterintuitive. It means the nucleus looks like a core plus extended diffuse cloud of neutron probability: the halo.

The author of the book, Jim Al-Khalili, is a theoretician who published some of the key papers on the structure of the halo in the mid and late 90s and was the first to determine its true size. This monograph is based on review articles he has written on the mathematical models used to determine the halo structure and the reactions used to model that structure.

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